Have you ever sketched out an advertisement for your business, stepped back, and taken a good long look at it? Was your first reaction “I like it! I like it a lot!” Now you either finish the creation yourself or you send it off to your favorite media for completion. Then you prepare for the greatest sales cycle of the year, possibly even your entire business history! “This is a great ad and it’s gonna get customers!” Ok, so this story is a bit dramatic, but the point is the same – you like the ad, but your prospects didn’t respond like you thought they would. Why? How can you improve these results?
Well, in addition to where your ads are being placed and the frequency of the placements, here are a few short and important steps to consider when you create an advertisement.
1. The most important part of the ad is the headline. It needs to pull in the reader and carry them to the copy. Strong graphics can supplement or (in some cases) substitute for text. Studies have shown that if the reader does not get past the headline they will not respond to the ad.
2. Create a sub-head (small headline), if appropriate, to clarify and support your main headline. Multiple sub-heads throughout a single ad may be appropriate depending on the layout.
3. Write the copy. Write it as a stream of thought, without edits; just write it down. It is easier to take away text than to add new text. Copy must be interesting, provide information the prospect is seeking, and lead the prospect to respond. The challenge with this step is writing for your readers. Do your readers even read today? Chances are they will read when it is interesting and appeals to them. Short or long, write for your audience.
4. Include a sense of urgency in the ad. What good is the call-to-action if there is no need to respond?
5. Include an offer. Offers generate a higher response rate.
6. TEST. Show it to staff, colleagues, family – anyone to provide alternative opinions. You may like it, but others may find it in need of change. Test it with a small group of prospects before sending it to a larger group.
7. Track the ad. Know how your sales or responses are getting to you, from which media they are coming. This is essential to understand your costs and plan future spending.
After testing, modify the ad, run it, and test it again if necessary. Once you have a good ad it should last a while. Some ads have lasted more than 10 years with great results.
Good Marketing To You!
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